American Bully History

Developed in the mid-1990’s the American Bully was initially bred on the US coast and is now one of the most popular breeds.

The breed is a cross between the American Pitbull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier.

However, the journey of the breed has not been plain sailing. The brutal ancestry of the Pitbull matched with a battle for acceptance with the American Kennel Club has led to a tricky public image for the breed.

American Bully History

The history of the American Bully is explored in this article as we take you through the breed’s inception, characteristics and public perception as we try to understand the journey of the breed and the reasons why its popularity has grown.

Breed Inception

Breeders in the US in the 1990s created what we now regard as the ‘American Bully’ by breeding American Pitbull Terriers from the United Kennel Club (UKC) with American Staffordshire Terriers from the American Kennel Club (AKC).

The breed produced by this mating was of a unique temperament compared to the American Pitbull Terrier. The significant difference led to the establishment of the first registered American Bully.

However, the breed didn’t come mainstream until July 2013 when it was officially recognised by UKC.

Over the years, breeding bloodlines have been refined and promoted worldwide. Now, the American Bully Kennel Club (ABKC), setup in 2004, recognizes five different sizes of the American Bully breed.

Although there is now widespread acceptance of the breed, the AKC continues to not certify the American Bully as a purebred.


The overall size may differ among the types of American Bully, but the physique is typically similar for each.

The American Bully maintains the stability and robustness of an American Pitbull Terrier.

It is a muscular, toned breed which is extremely agile and athletic. It can certainly perform most tasks you ask it to.


As a family companion, the American Bully has become of the one most popular dog breeds in the US. Renowned for strong physical attributes, the breed blend of the American Bully emphasises a temperament of devotion and loyalty.

The American Bully retains the tendency to be sociable and has the amiable character of an American Staffordshire Terrier.

The unique American Bully breed is also known for being extremely tolerant of children as well as having an eagerness to please the family.

The aggressive tendencies of Pitbulls have been bred out of the American Bully due to dog owners no longer favoring these characteristics as they are not suited to a domestic environment.


Despite the breed being somewhat more docile than Pitbulls, many continue to stereotype the American Bully as an aggressive breed.

Those not wanting to see the breed succeed have unfairly characterized the American Bully as a dangerous dog breed.

The mainstream media has an unfortunate tendency to put many different breeds under the ‘Pitbull’ umbrella, including the American Bully.

This means that when unfortunate incidents occur such as bites or attacks, the American Bully gets a negative press.

However, data from expert scientists and DNA tests reveal the vast majority of aggressive domestic dog attacks are with purebred American Pitbull Terriers and not the American Bully.

Despite these perception challenges, in recent years greater public exposure has highlighted the American Bully as a great breed.

Brief History of the American Pitbull Terrier

American Pitbull Terrier

As the American Bully is a crossbreed, understanding the American Bully history requires an appreciation of the history of the American Pitbull Terrier. This is detailed below.

Ancient Greece

Pitbulls are believed to date back to the Molossi tribe who resided in Ancient Greece. These were large, sturdy dogs used in warfare.

Roman Empire

From approximately 50 AD to 410 AD, these dogs were bred with indigenous breeds throughout Europe with the primary purpose of being bred for fighting in colosseums and other entertainment arenas.

These forefathers of the American Pitbull Terrier survived until 1066.

Norman Conquest

The Norman conquest of England in 1066 brought out a new area of Pitbulls. Norman’s used the dogs to tame bulls. They did this by biting and locking onto a bull’s nose, allowing the handler to regain control.


Butchers became incredibly proud of their companion’s ability to tame the bigger and more dangerous bulls. As a result, butchers arrange public displays of their dog’s ability to attack bulls, providing great entertainment value.

This activity became a sport in the 16th Century known as Baiting. By 1835 however, it was made illegal by the British parliament.


Unfortunately, this did not end the use of Pitbulls for inhumane practices.

A sport known as Ratting emerged which involved dogs being thrown into a pit full of rats and it was a race to see which dog killed the most rats. The ratting pit provides the origin of the ‘pit’ bull name.

Dog Fighting

Following ratting, dog fights continued to be coveted events in the 18th Century. Pitbulls were a well-regarded breed for this endeavor as their agile nature and ferocious bite were highly desired.

Pitbull Dog Fights came next where the dogs were specifically bred for direct combat. To create dogs that were so ready and eager for combat required forced starvation and restriction of sunlight.

The dogs were also trained to kill other animals to maximize their aggressive tendencies when fighting.

Migration to America

As a result of English migration to America in the 19th Century, Pitbulls landed in America.

Dog fighting continued to be common during this period, however, by the time AKC was founded in 1884 it was outlawed.

From this point on, the origins of the American Pitbull Terrier that we see today were born.

Certification in America

The American Kennel Club was founded to promote the interests of purebred dogs and owners. To do this they organised sponsored events to test breeds in terms of conformation and performance.

As the Pitbull had been previously bred for fighting, performance events posed an issue for the breed with dog fighting made illegal.

The AKC did not want to acknowledge anything associated with dog fighting so refused to class Pitbulls as a breed.

In response, the United Kennel Club (UKC) was set up in 1898 as a riposte to the AKC. The UKC’s mission was to certify breeds not acknowledged by AKC. The first registered breed by the UKC was the American Pitbull Terrier.

It took the AKC until 1936 to recognise the Pitbull but classed it as a Staffordshire Terrier which is the location in England where the breeding of bulldogs and terriers began.

The American Staffordshire Terrier is still acknowledged by the AKC but it has evolved from the Pitbull as a breed.


The image of the American Pitbull Terrier was enhanced during World War One (WWI) thanks to Stubby who was a mascot for the 102nd Infantry Division.

Stubby was credited with saving many human lives and was awarded many medals.

Over the last few centuries, many famous Americans have owned American Pitbull Terriers including Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Mark Twain and Thomas Edison.

While nowadays, the American Pitbull Terrier is beloved by many households and can be used in functions such as police, therapy, search or farm dogs.

Five Types of American Bully

American Bully Types

The popularization and acceptance of the American Pitbull Terrier led to the breed being used to crossbreed.

Although tamer than its ancestors, American breeders sought a breed that had the strong physique of a Pitbull but more of a calmer temperament.

This led to crossbreeding with the American Staffordshire Terrier to produce what we now call the American Bully.

The ABKC now recognises five types of American Bully, all of which are explored below.


The Standard bully is medium to large and is characterized by having a blocky head and muscular body type.

This was the first breed type of the American Bully with other types considered as amendments to the Standard.

The Standard is very strong proportional to its size and gives a bulky appearance. The dog ranges from 16 to 20 inches at the withers and will live 10 to 12 years.


Bred as an amendment to the Standard, the Classic Bully has a narrower body structure with less body mass.

Although looking more like a Pitbull, the temperament is very much that of a Bully. Classics also range from 16 to 20 inches at the withers and have a lifespan of 10 to 12 years.


While sizes can differ significantly, the Extreme is renowned for having a heavier body frame and increased overall body mass.

The type also has more winkling and a wider look.


While retaining most of the traits such as a stocky, muscular build and large head, the Pocket Bully is much more compact and shorter compared to the Standard.

Although it is the smallest among the Bully types, the Pocket continues to have great power due in part to its deep, filled chest. Despite this power, a Pocket Bully is very friendly and great with children.


The XL Bully is the largest type of breed. Known for a glossy short coat and broad, muscular cheeks, the XL retains the same Bully temperament, it is just a bit bigger than the Standard.

Fastest Growing Breed

In 2016, the American was identified as the fast-growing breed in the world. From China to Brazil, the US to the Philippines, demand for the breed has soared with dog owners increasingly seeking a calm-er version of a Pitbull that is easy to train and manage.

Final Words

Hopefully, this article has provided you with a brief history of the American Bully so that you can gain a better insight into the origins of the breed and the challenges it has encountered both with official certification and public perception.

The American Bully breed is increasingly popular across the globe as these robust dogs make fantastic household companions. They are great with kids, loyal and can perform a variety of tasks.

They can also be trained to be professional working dogs for the police and therapy.

When looking to adopt a breed, look more in-depth at the different types and bloodlines so you can select the optimal temperament and physique for your American Bully. There are many reputable American Bully Breeders available to contact.


Hi there, my name is Blake and I have an American Bully named Rocky. I fell in love with the breed around ten years ago after seeing some of my friends adopt a Bully. I love the combination of the muscular physique and calm, loyal companionship that the American Bully breed has to offer. My enthusiasm for the breed has led me to train as a dog behavioralist and trainer. Over the last ten years, I have supported many households in raising their American Bully and maximizing the potential of the breed. I’m delighted to share my knowledge and expertise on this site.

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